RE: Documenting enabled/disabled items

Subject: RE: Documenting enabled/disabled items
From: "Kathi Jan Knill" <Kathi -dot- Knill -at- template -dot- com>
To: "Christina Tolliver" <christina_tolliver -at- hotmail -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 1999 10:08:03 -0500

I think that if your users are somewhat novice users, the explanation of
which fields are
enabled or disabled is worthwhile. I would definitely use the format of your
second example.
It is clearer and gives more information, which is the purpose of informing
the users that
some fields are enabled and some are not.

Just my $ .02

Kathi Jan Knill
Sr. Technical Writer
Template Software
Kathi -dot- Knill -at- Template -dot- com
The best things in life are yours,
if you can appreciate yourself. ~ Dale Carnegie ~

-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-10443 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-10443 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com]On Behalf Of Christina
Sent: Monday, December 13, 1999 12:13 PM
Subject: Documenting enabled/disabled items


After procedure steps, do you document which fields are enabled and which
are disabled? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so, or not?

My question pertains particularly to software that is not consistent in
appearance or behavior. In my company's software, fields with a white
background are not always editable, and fields with a gray background are
not always read-only. The current user documentation indicates when fields
become disabled or enabled. Here's an example.

2 Click the Add button.
The non-editable fields are disabled.
The editable fields are enabled.

Whether or not you would _word_ things this way, do you think such a
statement helps users? (Our users are familiar with Windows but are not
computer whizzes.) Would this example be more helpful if the specific field
names were listed? Then, the example might read this way.

2 Click the Add button.
The Host, Switch, and Equipment boxes are disabled.
The Calling Feature box is enabled.

If this kind of information is helpful to users, it's worth the maintenance
effort for us writers to keep up with what fields are enabled when. But if
this is just a case of stating the obvious, maybe it's not worth our effort.

What do you think?

Christina Tolliver

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